By INÊS LOPES [email protected]
August will see the sinking of the first of four Portuguese Navy ships off the Portimão coast, where an underwater museum will be created, announced the promoter of the Ocean Revival project.
After cleaning and decontamination works, the Oliveira e Carmo war vessel, which served the Portuguese Navy for 40 years, will be the first to be submersed to form part of the Ocean Revival project, a diving park 5.5km off the coast of Portimão expected to attract thousands of divers each year to explore the marine biodiversity of this unique setting.
Luís Sá Couto, president of Submar and project promoter, told Lusa news agency: “Work to remove all toxic substances from the vessel is nearly finished, after which a team of technicians will inspect the craft before it is sunk.”
Around 300 tonnes of contaminated material was removed from the vessel in the last five months. “The preparation process is a long and complex one and is being carried out by a specialist company,” said Luís Sá Couto. Toxic material is then collected by recycling companies under the supervision of various entities to ensure public safety and protection of the environment.
“Oil, electric cables, asbestos and other dangerous substances are being removed, leaving behind materials that do not present a hazard to the environment and help to tell the history of the vessel,” he said.
Oliveira e Carmo will later be joined by patrol vessel Zambeze, which is currently being prepared to be submersed, and the Almeida Carvalho oceanographic research ship and the Hermenegildo Capelo frigate, all donated by the Portuguese Navy to Portimão Câmara, a partner in the project.
Mayor Manuel da Luz said: “It is time we took due advantage of the immense potential of our seas and, hopefully soon, Portimão will be seen as an attractive destination for diving.”
With the underwater museum, Luís Sá Couto is hoping to attract around 620,000 visitors in the first 10 years. The vessels, which will be sunk to a depth of 30 metres, will act as artificial reefs in a sandy bed, allowing for increased biodiversity in the area.
A total of €3 million will be invested in the project, of which €2.4 million will go towards the cleaning and decontamination.
Through the lens
Meanwhile, an exhibition of photographs about the Ocean Revival project is being held at the Centro Ciência Viva de Lagos until July 31.
Entitled ‘8 Points of View on The Ocean Revival Project’, the photographs on display were taken by eight students from the etic_algarve school in Portimão and aim to show the vessels through their artistic eyes.